February 13, 2011

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY: SCIENCE Doesn't Announce the Death of Death!

A few months ago, astrophysicist and certified genius, Stephen Hawking announced: “science makes God unnecessary.” (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/stephen-hawking-science-makes-god-unnecessary/story?id=11571150)

Several years ago, my son was training to be a paramedic. The stories he’d bring home while often horrific, were sometimes amazing.

People who would have died fifty years ago were not only living, but also being brought back from the verge of death. Twenty-first Century medical science has got the “resurrection” bit down. It’s just a matter of time, technology and technique and we’ll be able to snatch just about anyone from the jaws of oblivion.

The scientific creation of life in the laboratory as well, is pretty much a “done deal”. While researchers haven’t actually made monkeys from Formula 409, complex theories smooshing together other, slightly less complex theories have emerged that satisfactorily explain the origin of life on Earth to most of the scientific community (by that, writers usually mean “Americans” or more specifically, “Americans who don’t believe kooky creation myths”). Abiogenesis, followed by biopoeisis have created statements like the following:

“The first organisms were self-replicating iron-rich clays which fixed carbon dioxide into oxalic and other dicarboxylic acids. This system of replicating clays and their metabolic phenotype then evolved into the sulfide rich region of the hotspring acquiring the ability to fix nitrogen. Finally phosphate was incorporated into the evolving system which allowed the synthesis of nucleotides and phospholipids. If biosynthesis recapitulates biopoesis, then the synthesis of amino acids preceded the synthesis of the purine and pyrimidine bases. Furthermore the polymerization of the amino acid thioesters into polypeptides preceded the directed polymerization of amino acid esters by polynucleotides.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis) (The weird thing here, is I actually understand what this means! I was originally a biology major in college and have kept up by reading as many articles as I can on a bewildering array of subjects).

So, we have resurrection and creation handled. The last thing the scientific community needs to do to claim godhood is make us live forever.

It’s stymied.


While science has extended our lives and the “current maximum lifespan for humans is in excess of 120 years”, it doesn’t even come close to immortality. Cryonics (I have a go at this whole crazy religion here: http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2009/11/possibly-irritating-essays-dream-of.html) and other quack medical treatments like the $50 BILLION anti-aging industry have NOT brought us really significant extensions of life. I now look at cryonics as an attempt by some in the scientific community to change the generally accepted paradigm that “everything living dies”. They’ve tried to do an ad campaign to tell us that “eternal life is just around the corner!” But real people aren’t biting. The evidence seems clear: we may have creation and resurrection down, but eternal life is beyond human accomplishment and remains in the purview of God.

This is where science, scientists, science fiction writers and researchers get mad: they’ve taken Creation and nailed The Resurrection. They’re working on Feeding The Five Thousand With Five Loaves Of Bread And Two Fish and expect that that will be a problem soon yanked from the sole possession of religion. But they just can’t seem to join into a coherent front on what they call “life extension”, what others call “immortality” and what the Bible calls “eternal life”.

The aphorism, “The only sure thing is death and taxes” (gleaned from Daniel Defoe’s 1726 statement: “Things as certain as death and taxes can be more firmly believed.") continues to vex science, and I’m pretty sure that in the long run, it will be an accomplishment not even Stephen Hawking can make disappear by proclamation.

1 comment:

The Coffeehouse Storeroom said...

Hypothetically all you need to achieve immortality is medical science advancing more than 1 year a year.

But there is one thing science can't win over from religion. And it's the thing that religion has at its heart. Faith. There is a scientific community, but it's all about advancing and all about work.
Religion is a community of people coming together to believe in something, to cling to the edge of the last dingdong of doom that clangs and fades from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening.